California EBT Discounts and Perks

California’s Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) program delivers much more than just assistance with food purchases. Cardholders have access to a variety of discounts and complimentary services across the Golden State, allowing them to maximize the value of their benefits. These perks include reduced admission to cultural institutions, discounted utility services, and additional purchasing power at participating farmers’ markets.

Museum Discounts

California offers an array of museum discounts for EBT cardholders, ensuring that economic status doesn’t hinder access to cultural and educational experiences.

Free Access Programs

Museums for All is a nationwide initiative in which participating institutions provide free or reduced access to individuals receiving food assistance. In California, an EBT cardholder, accompanied with a photo ID, can gain free or reduced admission to numerous museums across the state, fostering regular museum visits for diverse audiences.

  • San Diego Model Railroad Museum: Free admission for up to four individuals per EBT card.
  • California Museum: $2 admission for cardholders and up to three other guests.

Discounted Family Passes

Many California museums extend discounts to families holding an EBT card, allowing them to enjoy group admissions at significantly reduced prices. This encourages family visits and makes cultural education more accessible.

  • General Admission Discounts: Museums like the San Diego Model Railroad Museum offer admission at $2 per person for up to four people per EBT card.
  • Specific Family Passes: Discounts vary by institution and often involve a flat rate for a family of four, rather than individual ticket prices.

Public Transportation Perks

California offers substantial public transportation discounts to EBT cardholders, improving accessibility and affordability for low-income individuals and families.

Reduced Fare Programs

Metrolink, Southern California’s regional rail network, provides a 50% discount on all Metrolink tickets and passes for EBT cardholders. Passengers can conveniently use their EBT cards at station machines to purchase their discounted tickets.

Free Transit Passes

Although specific free transit passes are not detailed in the provided information, many transit authorities periodically offer promotional free pass programs for special events or certain groups. Passengers with EBT cards are encouraged to check with their local transit authorities for free pass programs that may be available to them.

Utility and Service Discounts

California EBT cardholders have access to a range of utility discounts, including substantial savings on energy bills and communication services. These benefits are designed to help low-income households manage essential utilities more affordably.

Energy Bill Assistance

California Alternate Rates for Energy (CARE) Program offers eligible EBT cardholders discounts of 20% to 35% on their energy bills. The amount of the discount depends on the size of the electrical company servicing the customer. For companies with over 100,000 customer accounts, a discount of 30% to 35% is applied per Public Utilities Code Section 739.1. Smaller companies provide a 20% discount.

Phone and Internet Services

For communication services, the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) provides EBT recipients with a discount of up to $30 per month for high-speed internet service. Eligible households may also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 towards the purchase of a laptop, tablet, or desktop computer, with a required copayment between $10 and $50. This program, alongside discounted energy bills, enables those on the EBT program to stay connected and reduces the financial burden of maintaining essential services.

Parks and Recreation

California EBT cardholders enjoy access to a variety of benefits aimed at enhancing recreational opportunities within the state’s parks. These benefits include discounted passes and fees for state parks, as well as reduced rates for recreational programs.

State Park Passes

Golden Bear Pass: Eligible individuals on a limited income receive a discount on the Annual Pass to state parks. The pass allows free entry to all participating state parks during off-peak seasons.

  1. Eligibility: Seniors (aged 62 and over) and individuals who receive specific types of public assistance, including CalWORKs and SSI.
  2. Cost: Reduced cost compared to the standard Annual Pass price.

Recreational Program Discounts

California’s Department of Parks and Recreation offers reduced fees for various recreational programs to those holding an EBT card. These discounts are designed to make recreational activities more accessible and affordable.

  • Discounted Programs: A variety of discounts on programs such as nature walks, historical tours, and educational classes.
  • Availability: The discounts are often available at various participating state parks and recreational facilities.

Health and Wellness Services

California’s EBT program offers more than just food benefits; it extends to health and wellness services designed to support low-income individuals and families in adopting a healthier lifestyle. These services include discounts on fitness programs and access to nutritional education resources.

Fitness Program Discounts

California EBT cardholders may be eligible for reduced membership fees at participating fitness centers. For example, certain YMCA locations offer discounted rates to EBT recipients, making it more affordable to access facilities that include gyms, swimming pools, and fitness classes.

  • YMCA: Discounted memberships
  • Local Community Centers: May offer sliding scale fees based on income

Nutritional Education Resources

Nutritional education is vital for healthy living, and several programs are available to EBT recipients. The CalFresh Healthy Living Program provides free nutrition classes, which include lessons on budget-friendly shopping and cooking healthy meals.

  • CalFresh Healthy Living Program: Free nutrition classes and workshops
  • Extension Programs: Universities may offer community extension programs focused on nutrition education

Food Purchase Advantages

California EBT cardholders are entitled to several benefits designed to make healthy and fresh food more affordable. These programs provide discounts and even double the purchasing power for eligible items.

Farmers’ Market Discounts

EBT card users in California have access to discounts at many farmers’ markets across the state. These discounts enable individuals to purchase more fresh produce than they might otherwise afford. Some markets allow cardholders to receive additional benefits on top of the value of their EBT transactions, thus stretching their food budgets further.

Double-Up Food Bucks

The Double-Up Food Bucks program is another significant benefit for EBT cardholders, amplifying their buying capacity. When a cardholder spends a certain amount at participating locations, they receive matching funds to buy additional fruits and vegetables. For example:

  • Spend: $10 from EBT
  • Receive: An extra $10 in produce

This means for the first $10 spent from an EBT card per visit, the cardholder can get $20 worth of food.

Housing and Shelter Assistance

California provides a robust array of housing and shelter assistance programs for families and individuals utilizing EBT benefits, ensuring support for those in need.

CalWORKs Homeless Assistance Program is a prominent initiative offering temporary shelter. It helps with relocation costs, including:

  • Moving expenses
  • Rental subsidies (short to medium term)
  • Case management services

Eligibility for the program extends to CalWORKs recipients who are homeless or at-risk of becoming homeless.

The CalWORKs Housing Support Program (HSP) assists families in acquiring permanent housing, contributing to stability and long-term welfare. This program may also render temporary housing solutions during the transition phase to permanent residences.

Resources for these programs are available through local county welfare departments, where applicants can receive personalized assistance and detailed information regarding their eligibility and the range of benefits provided.

To contact about housing concerns, the CDSS Housing and Homelessness Division can be reached at:

  • Email: [email protected]
  • Phone: (916) 651-5155

Families are encouraged to inquire with their local county representatives to access the full spectrum of benefits, and take constructive steps toward secure housing.

Emergency Services and Disaster Relief

In the event of disasters, California provides several emergency services and relief options to those using Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) through the CalFresh program. For instance, during specific disasters like wildfires or earthquakes, Automated Mass Replacement Waivers may be implemented by the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS). These waivers allow for replacement of food benefits lost due to disasters in affected counties.

Expedited SNAP, also known as Emergency SNAP, is a facet of this relief that delivers food assistance swiftly, typically within three days, for those facing immediate food insecurity following an unforeseen event. This is especially critical for residents who find themselves in dire need of support without the typical processing delays.

During times of crisis, such as Hurricane Hilary in August 2023, the state secured waivers relating to child nutrition. Such waivers ensured that school age children would continue to receive meals despite school closures through the Child Nutrition Programs.

The state also engages the Emergency Food Assistance Program (EFAP), offering USDA commodities to eligible households. Income guidelines help determine eligibility for the program, ensuring aid reaches those most in need. Below is the process to acquire emergency food assistance:

  1. Check Eligibility: Refer to the income guideline chart to verify if you meet the requirements.
  2. Locate Food Banks: Visit the list of approved food banks to find one in your area.
  3. Distribution: Find the closest food distribution location to receive assistance.

These measures collectively underscore the state’s commitment to safeguarding its residents by providing essential services in times of emergency.

Legal Aid and Counseling Services

California provides a number of accessible legal aid and counseling services for individuals with low-to-moderate income. These services include assistance in various legal issues, such as family law, disability rights, and veterans benefits.

Eligibility for Legal Aid Services:

  • Income: Services are tailored for Californians with low and moderate incomes.
  • Case Type: Non-criminal cases are usually eligible.

Legal services are often offered at a free or low-cost basis, depending on the applicant’s income level and the type of legal problem they face. One can use resources like LawHelpCA.org to locate legal aid offices and confirm the areas of law they cover.

Resources for Legal Assistance:

  • LawHelpCalifornia.org: A statewide resource offering self-help information and referrals.
  • Funded Legal Aid Groups: The State Bar funds organizations across the state to provide these services.

Legal Aid Coverage:

  • Family Law: Including custody and divorce.
  • Disability Rights: Addressing discrimination and benefits issues.
  • Veterans Benefits: Help with claims and entitlements.

In summary, Californians with an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card may have access to not only food and museum discounts but also to crucial legal aid services aimed at ensuring justice and fair counsel across various legal disciplines.

Employment and Job Training Programs

California offers a variety of programs aimed at increasing the employment and earning potential of EBT recipients. These services focus on fostering self-sufficiency through training and employment opportunities.

CalFresh Employment & Training (E&T): A program designed to assist CalFresh recipients by providing skills, tools, basic education, training, and work experiences. Participants in this program can gain marketable job skills, which could lead to better employment opportunities and higher wages.

CalWORKs Welfare-to-Work (WTW): This comprehensive program assesses CalWORKs recipients to determine the most effective course of action to promote self-sufficiency. Options may include immediate job placement, enrollment in education or training programs, or a combination of both for those who are not exempt from participating.

America’s Job Center of California (AJCC): AJCC offers a range of employment and training services, including job search assistance, resume preparation, career assessment, and more. These services are provided at no cost, in partnership with state and local agencies, to help Californians find and retain meaningful employment.

ProgramDescription
CalFresh E&TOffers job skills, training, and work experiences for eligible EBT recipients.
CalWORKs WTWProvides assessments and plans for job placement or training for CalWORKs recipients.
AJCCDelivers a variety of employment-related services to assist job seekers in California.

These programs exemplify California’s commitment to supporting its residents in accessing the tools necessary to achieve economic stability and growth. Eligibility requirements apply and individuals interested in these programs should contact the appropriate local agencies for more information.

List of Participating Museums in California

Merced, California

  • Kids Discovery Station: 350 W Yosemite Avenue, Merced, CA 95348. Phone: (209) 580-4070. Website

Paso Robles, California

  • The Children’s Museum at the Paso Robles Volunteer Firehouse: 623 13th Street, Paso Robles, CA 93446. Phone: 805-238-7432. Website

Monterey, California

  • Monterey Museum of Art – La Mirada: 720 Via Mirada, Monterey, CA 93940. Phone: (831) 372-5477. Website
  • Monterey County Youth Museum (MY Museum): 425 Washington Street, Monterey, CA 93940. Phone: 831-649-6444. Website
  • Monterey Museum of Art – Pacific Street: 559 Pacific Street, Monterey, CA 93940. Phone: (831) 372-5477. Website

Capitola, California

  • Santa Cruz Children’s Museum of Discovery: 1855 41st Ave., Capitola, CA 95010. Phone: (888) 424-8035. Website

San Jose, California

  • San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles: 520 S. First Street, San Jose, CA 95113. Phone: (408) 971-0323. Website
  • Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose: 180 Woz Way, San Jose, CA 95110. Phone: 408-298-5437. Website
  • The Tech Interactive: 201 S. Market St., San Jose, CA 95113. Phone: (408) 294-8324. Website
  • San Jose Museum of Art: 110 South Market St., San Jose, CA 95113. Phone: 408-271-6840. Website

Cupertino, California

  • Cupertino Historical Society + Museum: 10185 N. Stelling Road, Cupertino, CA 95014. Phone: (408) 973-1495. Website

Palo Alto, California

  • Palo Alto Art Center: 1313 Newell Road, Palo Alto, CA 94303. Phone: (650) 329-2366. Website

San Luis Obispo, California

  • San Luis Obispo Children’s Museum: 1010 Nipomo St., San Luis Obispo, CA 93401. Phone: 805-544-5437. Website

Avila Beach, California

  • Central Coast Aquarium: 50 San Juan Street, Avila Beach, CA 93424. Phone: (805) 595-7280. Website

Woodside, California

  • Filoli Historic House & Garden: 86 Cañada Road, Woodside, CA 94062. Phone: (650)364-8300. Website

Walnut Creek, California

  • Ruth Bancroft Garden & Nursery: 1552 Bancroft Road, Walnut Creek, CA 94598. Phone: (925) 944-9352. Website
  • Lindsay Wildlife Experience: 1931 First Avenue, Walnut Creek, CA 94597. Phone: (925) 935-1978. Website

San Mateo, California

  • CuriOdyssey: 1651 Coyote Point Drive, San Mateo, CA 94401. Phone: (650) 342-7755. Website

Oakland, California

  • Chabot Space & Science Center: 10000 Skyline Blvd., Oakland, CA 94619. Phone: 510-336-7300. Website
  • Oakland Museum of California: 1000 Oak St., Oakland, CA 94607. Phone: 510-318-8400. Website
  • Camron-Stanford House: 1418 Lakeside Drive, Oakland, CA 94612. Phone: (510) 874-7802. Website
  • Museum of Children’s Arts: 1221 Broadway LL-49, Oakland, CA 94612. Phone: (510) 465-8770. Website

Alameda, California

  • USS Hornet Sea, Air & Space Museum: 707 W Hornet Ave Pier 3, Alameda, CA 94501. Phone: (510) 521-8448. Website

Berkeley, California

  • University of California Botanical Garden at Berkeley: 200 Centennial Drive, Berkeley, CA 94720. Phone: (510) 643-2755. Website
  • Lawrence Hall of Science: 1 Centennial Drive, Berkeley, CA 94720. Phone: 510-642-5132. Website
  • Habitot Children’s Museum: 2065 Kittredge Street, Berkeley, CA 94704. Phone: 510-647-1111. Website

Rancho Cordova, California

  • Sacramento Children’s Museum: 2701 Prospect Park, Rancho Cordova, CA 95670. Phone: (916) 730-5079. Website

San Francisco, California

  • Museum of Craft and Design: 2569 Third Street, San Francisco, CA 94107. Phone: 415-773-0303. Website
  • The Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes Center: 1065 Guadalupe Street, Guadalupe, CA 93434. Phone: (805) 343-2455. Website
  • Santa Maria Valley Discovery Museum: 705 S. McClelland Street, Santa Maria, CA 93454 United States. Phone: (805) 928-8414. Website
  • American Bookbinders Museum: 355 Clementina Street, San Francisco, CA 94103. Phone: (415) 824-9754. Website
  • Children’s Creativity Museum: 221 Fourth St., San Francisco, CA 94103. Phone: 415-820-3320. Website
  • Museum of the African Diaspora: 685 Mission St (at 3rd), San Francisco, CA 94105. Phone: (415) 358-7200. Website
  • Contemporary Jewish Museum: 736 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94103. Phone: (415) 655-7800. Website
  • Exploratorium: Pier 15, San Francisco, CA 94111. Phone: 415-528-4444. Website
  • Asian Art Museum: 200 Larkin St., San Francisco, CA 94102. Phone: (415) 581-3500. Website
  • GLBT Historical Society Museum: 4127 18th Street, San Francisco, CA 94114. Phone: (415) 621-1107. Website
  • Conservatory of Flowers: 100 John F. Kennedy Drive, San Francisco, CA 94118. Phone: (415) 831-2090. Website
  • California Museum: 1020 O St., Sacramento, CA 95814. Phone: (916) 653-7524. Website
  • California Academy of Sciences: 55 Music Concourse Drive, San Francisco, CA 94118. Phone: 415-379-8000. Website
  • San Francisco Botanical Garden at Strybing Arboretum: 1199 9th Ave., San Francisco, CA 94122. Phone: (415) 661-1316. Website
  • de Young Museum: 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, San Francisco, CA 94118. Phone: (415) 750-3600. Website
  • Japanese Tea Garden: 75 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, San Francisco, CA 94118. Phone: (415) 752-1171. Website
  • Crocker Art Museum: 216 O Street, Sacramento, CA 95814. Phone: (916) 808-7000. Website
  • San Francisco Zoo & Gardens: Sloat Blvd. @ The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA 94132. Phone: (415) 753-7080. Website
  • Sacramento History Museum: 101 I Street, Old Sacramento, CA 95814. Phone: (916) 808-7059. Website
  • Richmond Museum of History: 400 Nevin Avenue, Richmond, CA 94802. Phone: 510-235-7387. Website
  • Bay Area Discovery Museum: 557 McReynolds Rd, Fort Baker, Sausalito, CA

Zoos in California Offering EBT Discounts

The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens, Palm Desert, California

  • Discount Offer: $3.00 per person, up to 4 tickets per EBT Cardholder, for daytime admission.
  • Savings: $37 per ticket.
  • Eligibility: California SNAP/EBT Cardholders.
  • Additional Info: The EBT Cardholder must be present with a valid SNAP EBT card and current photo ID. Not valid for California P-EBT Cardholders.
  • Contact & Purchase Info: Website | Customer Service: Not specified.

Oakland Zoo, Oakland, California

  • Discount Offer: Free admission, up to 2 adult, 2 senior, and 4 child tickets per SNAP EBT Cardholder.
  • Savings: $24 per ticket.
  • Eligibility: Calfresh EBT benefits recipients. Excludes Medicaid, Medicare, WIC, and P-EBT beneficiaries.
  • Additional Info: Free parking; $2.00 transaction fee for online reservations.
  • Contact & Purchase Info: Website | Customer Service: (510)-632-9525.

San Francisco Zoo & Gardens, San Francisco, California

  • Discount Offer: $3.00 per person, up to 4 tickets per EBT Cardholder, per visit.
  • Savings: $26 per ticket.
  • Eligibility: SNAP EBT and WIC Cardholders. Not valid for California P-EBT and Medi-Cal participants.
  • Additional Info: Discount available every day at the entrance ticket window. Not valid during special events.
  • Contact & Purchase Info: Customer Service: (415) 753-7080.

Santa Barbara Zoo, Santa Barbara, California

  • Discount Offer: $3.00 per person, up to 4 tickets per EBT Cardholder, for daytime admission.
  • Savings: $22 per ticket.
  • Eligibility: SNAP EBT Cardholders. The cardholder must present a valid SNAP EBT card and current photo ID.
  • Additional Info: Tickets available only at the admission window. Parking is $11.00 per vehicle.
  • Contact & Purchase Info: Customer Service: (805) 962-5339.

Sequoia Park Zoo, Eureka, California

  • Discount Offer: $4.00 per person, up to 5 tickets per cardholder, for daytime admission.
  • Savings: $21 per ticket.
  • Eligibility: SNAP EBT, P-EBT Card, BIC Card (MediCal or Partnership), and WIC Cardholders.
  • Additional Info: Eligible card and photo ID required at the time of purchase.
  • Contact & Purchase Info: Customer Service: (707) 441-4263.

Aquariums in California Offering EBT Discounts

Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, California

  • Discount Offer: $3.00 per person, up to 4 tickets per EBT Cardholder for daytime admission.
  • Savings: $22 per ticket.
  • Eligibility: California SNAP EBT and WIC Cardholders. The cardholder must present a valid card and photo ID.
  • Contact & Purchase Info: Website | Phone: (858) 534-3474.

Markets in California Offering EBT Discounts

Enhance your food shopping experience at farmers markets by utilizing the EBT matching program, where spending with your CalFresh EBT card is doubled, up to $15 per visit. Here are some of the participating markets:

South Berkeley Farmers Market

  • Location: Adeline & 63rd St, Berkeley, CA 94703.
  • Schedule: Year-round, Tuesdays, 2:00pm – 6:30pm.
  • Match: Up to $10 per visit.

Jack London Square Farmers Market

  • Location: 44 Webster St, Oakland, CA 94607.
  • Schedule: Year-round, Sundays, 9:00am – 2:00pm.
  • Match: Up to $15 per visit.

Alameda Farmers Markets

  • Location: 710 Haight Ave, Alameda, CA 94501.
  • Schedule: Year-round, Saturdays & Tuesdays, 9:00am – 1:00pm.
  • Match: Up to $15 per visit.

Richmond Civic Center Market

  • Location: 325 Civic Center Plaza, Richmond, CA 94804.
  • Schedule: February to December, Wednesdays, 10:00am – 1:00pm.
  • Match: Up to $20 per visit.

Ferry Plaza Farmers Market

  • Location: The Embarcadero & Market St, San Francisco, CA 94111.
  • Schedule: Year-round, Saturdays, 8:00am – 2:00pm.
  • Match: Up to $15 per visit.

Heart of the City Farmers Market

  • Location: 1 United Nations Plaza, San Francisco, CA 94102.
  • Schedule: Year-round, Sundays, 7:00am – 5:00pm.
  • Match: Up to $30 per visit.

Coastside Farmers Markets Pacifica

  • Location: 400 Old County Rd, Pacifica, CA 94044.
  • Schedule: April to December, Wednesdays, 2:00pm – 6:00pm.
  • Match: Up to $20 per visit.

Education Benefits

California EBT provides specific advantages pertaining to educational needs, ensuring students and families can access school supplies and educational resources at a reduced cost or for free where possible.

School Supply Discounts

EBT cardholders may be eligible for discounts on school supplies at participating retailers. These discounts allow for the purchase of essential items like notebooks, pens, and backpacks at a more affordable price. Retail partnerships vary, and cardholders are encouraged to check for eligible stores and available discounts.

Free Educational Resources

The program also facilitates access to free educational resources, ranging from books to software. Public libraries may offer free rental of educational materials, and discounted or free educational programs are frequently available through community initiatives. Online platforms may partner with state programs to provide free access to educational content and learning tools.

Be sure to check out our other articles about Californis Food Stamps and EBT, including:

California Food Stamp How To Apply
Double Up Food Bucks in California
California Food Stamps Office Locations
California EBT Card Balance
What can you buy with food stamps
What Restaurants Accept EBT in California
How to Buy Groceries Online with California EBT Card